Trent Student Creates Upright Adaptive Ski Frame for Disabled Kids

Posted By: The Ski Channel on April 12, 2012 2:38 pm

A Nottingham Trent University student has dreamed up a new adaptive ski frame device that could get more disabled athletes on the mountain. Carl Rodrigues, a design student in his final year at Trent created the equipment with the hopes of further reducing the stigmas associated with products. 

PLFLERSCH, ITALY – MARCH 19 2012: Megs Baynham uses a Demand ski frame as designed by student Carl Rodrigues studying at Nottingham Trent University. On the picture Megs is being assisted by ski guide Winston McIntosh. (Photo by Nick Wilkinson/KST)

Typical adaptive ski equipment consists of a seated-design. In Rodrigues’ opinion, these designs provide skiers a noticeably dissimilar experience compared to that of an able-bodied skier. The frame he crafted features a harness system that allows children aged seven to 15 years with limited or no use of their legs to ski in an upright position.

Carl explained the motivation for his project, he explains, “With disability affecting approximately 10 per cent of the world’s population it is important to reduce any stigma associated with specially-designed products, and ensure that experiences are made as similar to able-bodied people as possible.”

During the past year, Rodrigues was placed with the charitable organization DEMAND as part of his university course curriculum. DEMAND specializes in the design and manufacture of these types of tools for the disabled. Through his partnership with DEMAND and Katie’s Ski Tracks — which is a charitable organization that takes kids with disabilities on ski trips — Carl got a chance to have his design tested by some excited children.

Carl was thrilled to have his equipment tested in the field, he said, “Along with the needs of the children, a number of other aspects had to be taken into account for the design such as the estimated travel size and weight, the ease of changing the frame from ‘travel’ to ‘in use’ modes, and the user’s comfort. It was great to see the ski frame I designed being used on the slopes recently – I have a few modifications to make, but the initial response was great.”

Both charities, DEMAND and Katie’s Ski Tracks have been partnering for several years, working tirelessly on various prototypes of upright ski frames for disabled ski enthusiasts

Paul Malloy, senior designer at DEMAND, explained, “The children’s needs are complex and various prototypes have been made in the last ten years, with different approaches investigated and tried. Carl designed his ski frame with these approaches in mind. He has incorporated some of the most successful features of previous designs and introduced his own ideas and innovations to produce a unique piece of equipment.”

With so many advances to adaptive technologies, it will be exciting to see where DEMAND and Katie’s Ski Tracks will take Rodrigues’ designs from here. It’s comforting to know that so many individuals are invested in these types of initiatives, and are making solid progress in the realm of tools for the disabled. DEMAND is well known for their commitment to the cause and aid individuals in need — regardless of their social/economic circumstances.

DEMAND operates completely thanks to the goodwill and generosity of it donors and is always open to donations and fundraising opportunities.

Carl Rodrigues is no content to rest on his laurels just yet. After graduating this upcoming July, he plans to continue gaining experiences in the design field and promoting ideas that seek to improve life.